Employee housing sales hit $1.6 million | AspenTimes.com

Employee housing sales hit $1.6 million

Janet Urquhart

The sale of units at two new complexes this year helped fuel $16.1 million in sales of worker housing in 2005, according to a year-end tally by the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

The housing office sold 105 units this year, including 39 new one-bedroom condos at Annie Mitchell Homestead, next to the Aspen Business Center. Also coming on the market were 13 new townhome-style residences ” a mix of one- and three-bedroom units ” at Stillwater, east of town.

In 2004, the housing office sold 57 units for a total of $9.03 million, compared to 39 unit sales totaling $5.8 million in 2003.

This year’s sales volume is the highest since the banner year of 2001, when the housing authority recorded 155 sales for $25.1 million. That year, new units in four different projects came on line, including 67 condos at Aspen Highlands Village.

Next year’s numbers should challenge 2001. The first phase of Burlingame Ranch, now under construction, will put 84 multifamily residences and 13 lots on the market. The first of the lots are slated to go on the market in January; qualified workers will vie for the chance to buy one in the housing authority’s lottery process.

This year’s sales continued to reflect higher demand for one-bedroom and studio apartments than anything else in the housing authority’s inventory. They are the only units single individuals are permitted to bid on. The one-bedrooms at Annie Mitchell priced at $89,200 each attracted 81 bids; the $137,300 condos, also one-bedroom units, each had 93 bids. One unit, priced at $92,868, attracted 32 bids.

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At Stillwater, two one-bedroom units priced at $137,300 attracted 169 bids apiece and a one-bedroom priced at $89,200 garnered 113 prospective buyers. A one-bedroom priced at $319,800 ” a record sum for one-bedroom worker unit ” had 28 applicants.

Stillwater’s three-bedroom, two-bath condos priced at $137,000 each attracted 169 bids, while the three-bedroom, two-bath condos priced at $369,300 each had 39 bids.

Among the older units that came up for resale this year, one-bedroom condos generally attracted between 30 and 40 bidders, but larger condos ” two- and three-bedroom residences ” often saw fewer than 20 bids apiece, and sometimes fewer than 10.

Housing officials nonetheless expect strong demand for the Burlingame units, which will include a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, along with the lots. Brand new units are always in demand.

“We don’t think we’re going to have much trouble filling them up,” said Tom McCabe, housing director. “We’re going to get hit hard with applications for the first phase.”

Prices for the units haven’t been finalized, but the first phase at Burlingame, now under construction, will include 13 one-bedroom, one-bath condos; 30 two-bedroom, one-bath condos and 41 three-bedroom, two-bath condos.

Burlingame is likely to attract those who have yet to win a housing lottery and workers who are already residing in employee housing but want to move up to something newer and bigger. It may also lure some individuals who have moved downvalley, McCabe speculated.

“We’re going, I think, to capture some of those people who don’t want to commute anymore,” he said.

However, Burlingame, located behind Deer Hill off Highway 82, between the Maroon Creek Club and Aspen Business Center, will not permit dogs ” a factor that will likely discourage some people from entering the lotteries.

“The issue that will affect it the most is the no-dog rule,” predicted Cindy Christensen, housing operations manager.

The housing authority oversees about 2,600 rental and sale units in Aspen and Pitkin County. Sale prices and rents are set in various categories, linked to income and assets, and appreciation of the sale units is capped. Buyers and renters must qualify as full-time local workers under the housing authority’s guidelines.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com